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Accidental shooting deaths down

A country music festival in Las Vegas: 58 dead. A Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas: 26 dead. The streets of Baltimore last year: nearly 300 dead.

Gun violence has received no shortage of attention. But one bright spot has gotten much less: the number of accidental shooting deaths has steadily declined.

There were 489 people killed in unintentional shootings in the U.S. in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available. That was down from 824 deaths in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Taking into account population growth over that time, the rate fell 48 percent.

Experts attribute the decline to a mix of gun safety education programs, state laws regulating gun storage in homes and a drop in the number of households that have guns. While the improvement occurred in every state, those with the most guns and the fewest laws continue to have the most accidental shooting deaths.

The gains were overshadowed by an overall rise in gun deaths driven by the top two causes: suicides and homicides. Accidents made up just 1.3 percent of the 36,247 U.S. shooting deaths in 2015.

Still, neither side of the gun debate talks much about the progress that has been made.

The National Rifle Association, which opposes most gun control measures, is not eager to acknowledge that gun regulations may be working. The group declined to comment for this report.

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